Social worker Uma Preman deserves plaudits for bringing positive changes into the lives of the tribal people living in the various tribal settlements in Attappady.
The 'Shanti Information Center' found by Uma focuses on building sustainable houses for the tribal communities, with cooperation from the state government. She opened the APJ Abdul Kalam International School for imparting quality education for the tribal children. Uma was keen to supply nutritious food for the tribal women and children thereby lowering the risk of under nourishment or malnutrition in them.
After the deadly deluge in August last year, Uma had built a model house which could effectively withstand floods or any other natural calamity. This model caught the eye of many well known architects and other eminent personalities. It was the success of this model house which inspired her to come up with another unique design.
The climate of Attappady is quite unpredictable, with blazing summers and winds, during most of the year. Uma had been researching for a design, for a house, which could effectively survive this climate and extreme temperatures. She was particularly interested in the stilt houses which were primarily built as a protection against floods. After the floods, she introduced the model of a low cost rehab house which could be easily constructed and also survive the various natural calamities. These rehab houses were further modified to suit the unique climate of Attappady.
"It was one of my friends who told about the TPI boards that are imported from Thailand. These are fiber cement boards and could be arranged into fully fledged houses with required spaces. They offer warranty up to 50 years as well. So we imported the boards on an experimental basis. Engineer Anil, who designed our school and other housing projects, was entrusted with this one too. The construction of the house was completed in just 10 days, that too, on a budget of Rs 5 lakhs. TPI boards were used to build the foundation, walls and even the roof of the house," says Uma Preman.
Method of construction:
1. Barrels were inserted into huge pits on the ground and sealed with concrete mixture.
2. GI frames were erected over it to build the structure.
3. The TPI boards were placed on it as the foundation.
4. The walls were screwed in. So was the roof.
There is a living area, dining space, kitchen, and two bedrooms with attached bathroom in one, and a common bathroom in this house which has an area of 400 sqft. The windows, cupboards in the kitchen and the wardrobes in the bedrooms are done in aluminum fabrication.
One of the most amazing advantages of the TPI is the availability of boards of different width, suited to build specially designed spaces. Rs 1 lakh were spent for paving tiles on the floor and other furnishing jobs. Onduvilla roofing, imported from France was used on the roof, just to add a designer element. The construction of the house could easily be completed on a meager budget of Rs 4 – 5 lakhs if additional features like these are avoided. This impeccably unique house also functions as Uma Preman's office.
The 'Shanti Information Center' is gearing up to build such houses, by cooperating with the CSR projects, at places in Tamil Nadu which was ravaged by cyclone Gaja. Uma appeals to the governments and other organizations to take up such projects which explore the possibilities of parallel construction methods.
These are the advantages of the TPI board houses:
The house effectively survives floods as they are built at a significant height from the ground.
It can be constructed in a short span of time. There is no need for expert laborers. The budget for construction is significantly low.
The spaces in the interiors can be re arranged as per the interests of the inhabitants.
This removable house can be relocated to another place.
Location – Attappady, Palakkad
Area – 400 SFT
Owner – Uma Preman
Engineer – Anil C
Mob - 9846101000